Saturday, March 24, 2012

Where the Hell are the Breadcrumbs?!

Supermarkets offer two main connundra to shoppers. Neither of them make shopping an enjoyable experience.

First, supermarkets are constructed to offer absolutely anything and everything to customers, and the varieties and sizes of products have only diversified over the years. Where only different sizes of whole milk were once all you could find in dairy department refrigerators about fifteen years ago, today, milk is available from whole to skim and in sizes ranging from an individual portion to a shelf-sized tank. Pepperidge Farm's original attempt to branch out was to manufacture its famous Milano cookies in mini form. Today, you can get Milano cookies in mint, raspberry, strawberry, double chocolate, in standard packaging or in seasonal colors, and there is even a type of Milano that is more like a Twinkie with a chocolate frosting center.

Variety is good, right? Well, yes and no. There is no question that building on successful lines of products is a marketing strategy employed by companies to get you to buy more of their products. And, based on the ever-expanding size of shopping carts available to customers, it is certainly working. Problems arise, however, when you just want to buy one or two important things. When I returned to the store to purchase the potatoes that I forgot recently, I was stuck. Either I could check myself out, which is always a mistake when you buy anything without a bar code, I could stand in a line behind several people, all of whom had chosen the extra-large shopping carts and had stuffed them to full, or hope someone was standing near enough by the "Express" lane to check me out. Oh, and I don't think that 15 items constitutes a "small" order, either.

The other problem is product placement in the store. Yes, indeed, the produce, the bread products, and the dairy aisle are all miles apart on purpose. My main problem is the fact that the same item or classification of items will be in completely different places in different supermarkets. Remember the bread crumbs? I'll never forget how hard they were to find in one particular supermarket I went into on what was supposed to be a quick trip. I checked the bread aisle, the Italian food section, the baking needs aisle...nothing. Then, I found them--they were on a shelf over a waist-high freezer across from the processed meats and the yogurt (????).

This prompted me to look for breadcrumbs in every supermarket I went into. In addition to those mentioned above, locations include: next to the foil baking pans, under the spices and next to the salt, across from the cookies, and next to the chicken pieces. And, going into the same supermarket chain in different towns didn't help either. Years ago, Stop 'n' Shop used to have computers in the store that would tell you where items were located in relation to where you were standing. Today, I'd have to track down and ask a store employee, and unless you're in the store during restocking hours, you're out of luck before you start there.

I don't know anyone who looks forward to a long, leisurely trip to the supermarket. However, between tracking down products, walking half a mile between areas where essentials are placed, and waiting through an inefficient charge-and-pay system, you may as well plan on cashing in some of your obviously abundant extra time.


Anonymous said...

I have come to agree that checking yourself out is a mistake. There is an Albertson's close to my house, and I used to shop there multiple times every week and often went through the self check out lane. But on two separate occasions, I fed the machine the correct amount of change, but one of the coins didn't apply to the balance on the screen. The first time it happened, I just shrugged and cut my losses aas I was in a hurry, but the second time I decided to bring it to an employees attention. First, the employee treated me like some kind of criminal trying to pull a fast one with my 25 cent thievery! Then, after she realized I was not going to back down (I wanted my correct change damn it!), she unlocked the change compartment and asked me to repeat to her the coins I had put in the machine. After rattling off the coins matching the ones in the machine, this check out lady made a remark about my possibly having made a human error! I guess with my two college degrees, I just never got the hang of counting change? Give me a break! I now drive just a little farther down the road to a grocery store that doesn't have self checkout, has better prices, and treats me with respect. Considering the fact that our family of 5 was spending about $600 a month at the first store for more than 5 years, even if I had been trying to pull a fast one with my 25 cent grocery heist, she would have been better off giving me the benefit of the doubt. Makes me want to be more self sufficient so I don't even have to shop at these stores!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Now I am very glad I make my own bread crumbs. Nonetheless, I am still filled with grocery store anxiety. I do try to shop at the farmers' market when I can, but it's not always possible. At least they don't have self checkout!

The World According To Me said...

I've never managed to find breadcrumbs!
I can't bear huge supermarkets. I know we all need to eat but I can think of better things to do with my time than finding things to eat! I always choose a smaller supermarket over a larger one (unless I need household items such as cooking equipment) and I always see how fast I can get the heck out of there!